1987 Kennedy Half Dollars

Posted by Jay Turner, NGC Grader and Attributor, on 5/21/2008

Because it was never released into circulation, the 1987 Kennedy Half Dollar is considered a numismatic anomaly — and yet the coin is not a semi-key for the series. Jay Turner has the full story.

The 1987 Kennedy Half Dollars are considered anomalies in numismatics. Unlike other Kennedy circulation issue coins, the 1987 Kennedy Half Dollars issued by the Philadelphia and Denver Mints were never released into circulation and were only placed into United States Mint Uncirculated Sets, creating what many would think would be a semi-key for the series, as is often the case with circulation issue coins not released into circulation. This unfortunately is not true.

The 1987 Uncirculated Sets had a dramatic mintage for the year, with 2,908,145 issued, dramatically higher than sets of the previous few years, and sets issued thereafter. Because of this high mintage of sets, no shortage of 1987 Half Dollars ever occurred, even though they were never officially released into circulation. The demand for the coin was more than satisfied by cutting up mint sets.

The other issue with 1987 Kennedy Half Dollars is that, since all coins were issued in Uncirculated Mint Sets, the majority will remain in uncirculated, or better, condition. According to the NGC population report, 357 coins have been graded by NGC, with grades ranging from MS 63 to one grading MS 68.

While the 1987 Half Dollar is very elusive but not impossible to find in circulation and rolls, the coin remains very easy to obtain in a 1987 Mint Set, which still trades close to the $7 issue price. While it is not a Key Date, it is likely that only very high-grade, certified pieces will bring significant premiums.